130,000 Fijians at risk of falling into poverty

A settlement in Suva. Picture: FILE

Close to 130,000 Fijians are classified as “nearpoor” and at risk of falling into poverty, says the Fiji Bureau of Statistics 2019- 2020 Household Income and Expenditure Survey (HIES).

According to the study, 129,313 of Fiji’s population of 864,132 were classified as near-poor and could fall into the absolute poverty category.

The survey report stated the term “vulnerable” was used to describe certain groups that were at risk of falling into poverty.

“In order to remove this ambiguity, the term ‘near-poor’ has been used to describe people who are not currently poor (living above the poverty line) but may be at significant risk of becoming poor in the future,” the HIES report stated.

“In other words, the nearpoor population is defined as those people whose consumption is above but still close to the poverty line.” The single national poverty line was set at $2179.39 per adult equivalent (AE) per year, or $41.91 per week.

The survey found that65,313 people in rural Fiji and 64,000 in urban areas were “near-poor”.

The highest number of near-poor or 50,791 people were living in the Central Division while 49,650 were in the Western Division.

The survey also identified 23,344 near-poor people in the North and 5528 in the Eastern Division.

The 2019-2020 HIES revealed that 258,053 of Fiji’s total population of 864,132 were living in poverty and of this, 200,871 were Christians, 41,042 were Hindus and 11,679 were Muslims.

The survey found that 134,060 males and 123,992 females were living below the poverty line.

Of this, 65,782 people in the rural Western Division were living below the poverty line, followed by 46,588 in urban Central, 41,178 in rural Central and 41,206 in urban Western.

The highest number of poor at 106,988 were in the West, followed by 87,766 in the Central Division, 47,819 in the North and 15,480 in the Eastern Division.

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